Saturday, October 04, 2008
Blog DVD Reviews: The Smurfs Season 1, Volume 2 and South Park - The Cult of Cartman: Revelations (October 7)
The Smurfs: Season 1, Volume 2 (Warner, $26.98) brings us the second half of the first season of the classic Saturday morning animated series that lasted nearly a decade on DVD. Handy, Hefty, Grouchy, Brainy, Jokey, Clumsy, Lazy, Dreamy, Smurfette, Papa Smurf and more of your favorite little blue people bring you the greatest show on Smurf are all back in more fun adventures. It's Season One, Vol. 2 of The Smurfs, home of the powder-blue pixies who have a way with words and have way-out adventures as they come face to face with Gargamel, Hogatha, Bigmouth, an abominable Snowbeast, and even a rampaging robot Smurf!
Let's now move on to the packaging. It's very similar to the last set...we have a thin outer box that holds a very thin digipak case. The front cover of both the box and case are the same, we see the land of Smurf in the background as the Smurfs are at play with Gargamel and Azrael looking through the bushes in a nice and blue sky. The title of the show is on the top, with a mention below that that this is Season One, Volume Two in yellow lettering! To the back of the box we go, we get a nice synopsis of the series, along with details on the "Enchanting Extra." We see Smurfette with a butterfly and Papa Smurf as the evil Gargamel is watching. When we open the case, we get more colorful backgrounds. On the left we have a disc-by-disc breakdown of what we can expect episode title wise and special features wise. The left also has a nice green grass background near a water stream with two Smurfs on a boat. On the right side, we see both discs...overlapping each other again, ugh...I hate that. Both discs are in a yellow background with four or five Smurfs characters on each disc with an item they are known for. When you remove both discs from the case, you can see the continuation of the image from the left side, as Gargamel and Azrael are in the water stream with more Smurfs on the green grass. The back of the case has another nice background with a blue sky and nice green gash with a lot of mushrooms as Jokey with his present and Hefty on a rock.
The menu screens are very nice. We see the land of Smurf in the background with Gargamel and Azrael approaching. It is very colorful. The catchy theme is playing in the background. Auto trailer for not pirating DVDs starts off disc one before the main menu comes. Options for the main menu are: Play, Episodes, Languages, Special Features (disc 2 only). Languages has an option to turn on English subtitles. Episodes have a list of episodes obviously. And Special Features list the one featurette and Trailers for other Warner Home Video sets like the Charlie Brown Holiday Collection.
The video and audio is tremendous once again. The Smurfs never looked better. The packaging states that the episodes are remastered. I am very impressed, as I was with the first volume. As a reminder, originally season one was an hour-long show on Saturdays with three mini episodes in the hour, however after about 2-3 episodes they started to repeat one of the mini episodes from the previous week the following week so they can cover the full hour. The episodes usually lasted approx. 12 min, 12 min, and 24 min or so for the full hour. So it makes NO sense on this DVD to have some repeats of a mini episode, so Warner has removed the repeats. There are no chapter stops on this set, but the mini episodes are easier to get to now, as you can choose the episode title from the menu. The mini episodes are about 12:30-13:00 and the full episodes are about 23:30 or more. The season finale is in the full one-hour form and three episodes in the hour (12:57/22:10/12:30), so I guess they didn't need to repeat anything then originally. I don't know how they could have handled this, but they split season one in half (meaning in these two volumes), so they could have just left the repeats in there so we could get the original NBC versions since they did this splitting nonsense. I know that would be weird to have repeats, but why split them up in two volumes anyway? I would have rather have season 1 in full without the repeats on 4 or 5 discs...that would work the best and it would have fit. The show has like 9 seasons, splitting them up in two volumes per season would be too much. I hope for Season 2 we get it all one ONE set and not two volumes...or we would need about 18 sets to finish the entire series, which is crazy.
As for special features, we get the featurette "I Smurf the Smurfs!" It runs 16:39 and is a lovefest on how people still love...err smurf the Smurfs! It has interviews with some of the writers (Marc Zicree, Mel Gilden) and voice artists from the show, including Lucille Bliss (Smurfette), June Foray (Jokey) and Danny Goldman (Brainy) and some actors who grew up or had their kids watching the show in its original run like Jo Marie Payton (Perfect Strangers, Family Matters), Candace Cameron (Full House), Persia White (Girlfriends), Debbie Allen (producer of A Different World), and Catherine Hicks (7th Heaven). It's really a fun extra!
I highly do recommend this set for any Smurfs fan and classic animation in general. The set is Smurftastic, but as with the first volume it could have been so much better. The special feature is so much better than the last set but the episode situation is still a mixed bag...I don't know how I would have handled it, but one thing for sure is I would not have split the season in two volumes. Other than that, the episodes are great and look great, too. I hope season two is out very soon and we get it all in one shot rather than two volumes. They better Smurf to it and get the job done. But before we get ready to Smurf to season two, click below to order this DVD, if you haven't already. You better Smurf to it before Gargamel and his lazy cat Azrael see you with the DVD. Enjoy the Smurftastic DVD before they get their hands on it and see how badly they are portrayed!
-- Reviewed by Pavan
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South Park - The Cult of Cartman: Revelations (Comedy Central DVD, $26.98) allows you, the viewer, to join a very special religious order, that of Eric Theodore Cartman. The two-disc DVD set brings together twelve very important life lessons (each presented in its own 22 minute episode) about living the lifestyle of a... Cartmanian?
This DVD set is very special before you even get a chance to open it. The first thing that you'll notice is that the set is presented like a hardcover book... as it is the "bible" of The Cult of Cartman. It is very heavy and sturdy packaging, and it opens up to reveal the two discs inside, where you will find each of the important life lessons.
When you place each disc in your DVD player, you are NOT presented with a "Comedy Central DVD" logo... in a very creative move, we get a "Presented by The Eric Theodore Cartman Society" logo, followed by all of the disclaimers... but even during the disclaimers, we here Cartman announce "I'm waiting." After you get through that, you get an animated menu with Cartman introducing himself and what the DVD is all about... but hurry up, because he does get impatient on the menus if you don't select a lesson quickly enough! The menu presents you with six choices of life lessons, or episodes, per disc.
Once you select one of the lessons, you get an introduction to that lesson from Cartman himself, all-new animation created exclusively for this DVD set. It is very fun to watch, and to hear some of his life lessons--which are lessons that we wouldn't all exactly want to live by! Basically, he stands in front of a white background, where the life lesson appears on the background, then talks about the lesson.
In the first life lesson, we learn the importance of retaliation, as we discover through the episode "Scott Tenorman Must Die." This is the first episode in which we truly see Eric Cartman's evil side, but according to The Cult of Cartman, we learn that this is acceptable. In "Awesom-O," we learn a lesson about taking jokes too far. Cartman appears from the dead... sort of... in "The Death of Eric Cartman." In the two-part episode "Cartoon Wars," the series (or more specifically Cartman) takes on South Park. Cartman decides that Tourette's Syndrome is the way to get what he wants (even if he doesn't have Tourette's Syndrome) in "Le Petit Tourette."
Cartman may have given Kyle AIDS (don't ask) in "Tonsil Trouble." In "Eek, a Penis!," Cartman does his best to educate the youth while his teacher Mrs. Garrison is on a quest to become Mr. Garrison once again. Cartman opens up his own theme park in "Cartmanland." Cartman takes part in the Special Olympics in "Up the Down Steroid." Super Fun Time has Cartman and Butters holding hands while they cut during the school field trip, and Butters worrying about the consequences. Cartman teaches us when it is OK to discriminate in "Ginger Kids."
The video and audio quality on the set are great, with no true problems to note at all. They've even corrected the "closing credits problem" that was seen when these episodes were released on season sets, where the sets retained the Comedy Central closing credits (the "original" ones are found on this set). Each episode is closed-captioned for those that require closed-captioning and runs over 22 minutes in length.
The DVD is full of style and flash, but the substance just isn't there when it comes to special features. The only special features are the introductions to each episode, presented as a lesson by Cartman. This is a unique DVD set, so things like commentaries and interviews with creators, as well as behind-the-scenes items, would NOT be appropriate, but why not an animated interview with Cartman talking about how his church stands above the rest? Or how about a commercial advertising this church? They could have gone all out on these things, but unfortunately they didn't.
As all is said and done, this is a very nice set in how it is presented, but if you're just looking for episodes, head for the season sets. There are only three episodes on this set that are not yet on DVD, and that is because they are from the current season. Some of these episodes have been on DVD a few times already even. But if you are a fan of the series and want to learn about Cartman's church, you'll love this set. Those that want to own everything South Park will definitely want to have this. And oh yeah, don't forget, as Cartman keeps reminding us on these DVDs, we all die in 2012... wait, that isn't a very positive message.
-- Reviewed by skees53
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